As part of our “They’re doing the data” feature, Alix Romatet (Field Marketing Manager, Similarweb) agreed to take a look at the past year and the major marketing issues of the beginning of the year.
LeBigData.fr One word to define the year that just passed?
Alix Romatet (SimilarWeb): I will say “New Normal”. That is to say, both the return to a form of pre-covid normality, but a new, unprecedented normality. Needs have evolved, new challenges and opportunities have emerged. Currently, we are in a period of in-between: consumers are adopting new ways of consuming and for companies, it is a question of understanding in real time what is going on.
How have you adapted to Covid and how are you experiencing this return to normalcy?
At Similarweb, it was easy because we are a very international company in its DNA, with offices in Tel Aviv, New York, London, Sydney, Paris… We were already used to working remotely. In marketing, and particularly in field marketing, which is often wrongly perceived as “event marketing”, we have gone from a business where the objective was to generate “live” opportunities with customers and prospects, to a business where we had to learn to recreate these interactions online. It was important to identify the right channels to communicate and build relationships. Like most companies, we did webinars, email campaigns. And because we’re a SaaS platform that analyzes traffic data from any website or app in the world, we were able to use all that data to give insights into the changes that were taking place. So we positioned ourselves as a guide in an uncertain context. So it was a chance to talk about our product in a different way. The challenge now, the challenge for the year 2022, will be to adapt to this “new normal”, to get back to the physical, to reconnect, because we have all lost the habit of meeting.
Concretely, what actions have you started to put in place?
We are going to start participating in physics fairs again and we are going to start organizing events ourselves. The challenge will probably be to make people want to come back to physical. They say it takes 3 weeks to create a habit, but we’ve all had plenty of time to break our pre-covid habits. For example: we attend webinars in the morning instead of going to physical breakfasts. We go to Zoom meetings instead of going to our clients’ offices. So the question is: how do we keep the attention of consumers, clients and prospects? On this point, we plan to rely on a really relevant content strategy, with formats that people want to consume, without falling into clickbait (attractive titles and hollow articles behind).
What will you keep from this Covid period?
Obviously we’re going to continue to have a strong online presence, especially via webinars. We’re not just there to change habits but to adapt to the reality of a market. Right now, people are online, so we’ll be there too. For example, we realized that there was a real commitment to the webinar format. On the other hand, we try to choose topics that are adapted to our audience, that interest us, and are therefore more likely to interest our prospects. Our webinars are meant to be real conversations, more than a sales tool with the sole purpose of presenting the latest Similarweb feature. This goes back to what we said about content strategy: having too much of a product-centric approach is no longer interesting.
Do you see any kind of fatigue with the webinar format?
Well, not necessarily. Our 30-minute morning format, a bit like a radio morning show, which we call “virtual breakfast events”, works well. To keep a form of conviviality, we send breakfast to the homes of the people who participate in the event. Nevertheless, it is obvious that there is a strong increase in the offer of webinars. The sinews of war are still to capture the attention of increasingly solicited users. You need the best content, but you also need to create an experience.
What are your biggest challenges for your clients at the beginning of the year?
Our basic observation is that there is a acceleration of digital that continues even in the context of the “new normal”. For example, we notice that e-commerce has continued to grow enormously, as shown by Fevad’s figures, despite the reopening of stores (+15% of turnover). So there is a real stake online. From there, two dynamics stand out: the first concerns retailers and marketplaces that are taking more and more space. I’m thinking of Sephora, Amazon, Mano Mano… At the opposite end of the spectrum, there are the DNVBs, the Digital Native Vertical Brands, which are also growing fast. The brands that are in between, that is to say that sell in BtoC in their network of stores and in online retailers, are subject to a lack of visibility. The challenge for them will be to regain control of their online performance. Similarweb addresses this problem by providing visibility into what is really happening online: the performance of brands, their competitors and retailers on the one hand, and the understanding of the user’s buying journey on the other. This allows brands to better understand and segment their audiences to personalize their online experience. For example, one of the reasons for the success of DNVBs is that they have created brand identities that mirror the needs of Generation Z: the quest for authenticity and inclusiveness. These brands have invented original online experiences: hyper-personalization of products, use of new technologies, etc. On the other hand, marketplaces rely on efficiency arguments with an extremely efficient supply chain. I think that many brands are between the two, and need to find new growth drivers. In parallel to what I’ve just mentioned, there will be an issue around data with the end of third-party cookies announced by Google Chrome.
One word to define the year to come?
I think it’s going to be a year of transition. Again. In terms of regulation, if 2023 marks the end of third-party cookies on Chrome, then 2022 will be a year of preparation towards new marketing strategies. I also hope that 2022 will be the year of the final transition to post-covid. And finally, a transition year on the accelerating digitalization phenomenon, during which brands will take time to really understand what’s going on before shifting the paradigm in 2023.
Interview by Amandine Durand